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FAANG and Capstone

I wasn’t planning to take Capstone until the spring. Last summer, I completed a subpar internship with Cigna and shortly thereafter received a return offer for an August, 2022 start date. I could technically graduate in March but why rush? I had no other prospects because I kept failing technical interviews, until something magical happened… I got lucky. While interning with Amazon, my OSU classmate referred me for a new grad position. Last year, I made it to the final round interview with Amazon and thoroughly bombed it. This year, after failing six consecutive interviews with other companies, my hopes were not high.



I was leetcoding 3-4 hours a day, stressing out, letting my grades slip, when my friend reached out with some news. He learned that some of the new grad hires were not being put through three rounds of arduous technical interviews. Due to COVID, they simply had to review their online assessment (OA) code with the interviewer. When I heard this news, I knew I had a chance. However, to my horror, my OA code was an absolute mess. After completing 15 OAs only to bomb every interview, I assumed no one was reading my perfect OA code, and I’ll admit, I became sloppy.


The interviewer didn’t ask me a single question about myself. He introduced himself and asked me to explain my code. I could tell he was not impressed. I explained my thought process for each problem and how I had mistakenly prioritized speed over clean code. I informed him that I had reworked each problem but he didn’t want to see the revised versions. Then he asked if I had any questions. This was my shot in the dark chance of making up for my messy code.


Revised Amazon OA code


What’s the single thing everyone in the world loves to talk about? Here’s a hint, it’s not the weather! I pestered him with thoughtful questions about his work, his opinions on Amazon, anything that seemed to interest him. Meanwhile, if I found a commonality, I promoted myself: “oh you’re studying for the AWS Solutions Architect exam? I just completed the AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification…” I absolutely gave it my all for those remaining ten minutes and then it was over.


I grieved the loss of that Amazon paycheck for five days. I cried every single day, I knew I bombed yet another chance to rise to the top. Two weeks later, I was in a Zoom call with my boss when I received a text message from Amazon congratulating me and instructing me to check the student portal. I nearly fainted, I was sure it was a mistake. One of those damn robo texts feeding off my desire to succeed. I logged into the portal and found an offer letter. I had done it, somehow I had convinced that interviewer to overlook my flawed code and give me a chance. Success!


Amazon let me choose my start date. I realized I could graduate in March and be an employed software engineer by April. Now that I had a job lined up, I could face my burn out from school and all that leetcode. I joined the millions of other Americans quitting their shitty part time jobs and decided to coast until graduation. They say that luck favors the prepared. I was not prepared and yet, I still got lucky. As my brother would say, take the win Ash, take the win.

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